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Volume 2020 |Article ID 6647819 | https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/6647819

Zitian Liao, Shah Nazir, Anwar Hussain, Habib Ullah Khan, Muhammad Shafiq, "Software Piracy Awareness, Policy, and User Perspective in Educational Institutions", Scientific Programming, vol. 2020, Article ID 6647819, 14 pages, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/6647819

Software Piracy Awareness, Policy, and User Perspective in Educational Institutions

Academic Editor: Sikandar Ali
Received10 Oct 2020
Revised17 Nov 2020
Accepted27 Nov 2020
Published11 Dec 2020

Abstract

Software theft and piracy are rapidly ever-increasing problems of the present-day software industry. Software piracy is the illegal copy and use of software in a way other than that is officially documented by exclusive rights of the developer in the form of an individual or organization as described in the relevant sale agreement (license). Owing to the evolution in software development and Internet, software piracy has become a main concern for many software companies. Software companies are confronted with extremely high losses due to the piracy of software. Pirates achieve a lot of money by doing business with pirated software. General end-users of the software are not aware of this serious crime and of the legal consequences of breaking the law. Even most of the time, end-users and consumers think that it is none of their concern and not an important issue for them. Although, in reality, if an organization is working with pirated software, there is a risk of failure of the software, and it might put their organization at risk as pirated software does not receive any support from the development organization. This ultimately puts the consumer organization in huge financial loss. Due to these reasons, software piracy has turned out to be a major concern, more emergent due to the extravagant development of the software industry and the availability of software(s) on the Internet. In this paper, we analyzed and identified the ratio of software piracy, awareness regarding piracy, and the policy of the licensed software provided. Based on the results of the study, some suggestions are proposed by which the level of piracy can be reduced.

1. Introduction

Software piracy is the illegal copying, installation, use, distribution, or sale of software in any way other than that is expressed in the license agreement. The software industry is facing huge financial losses due to the piracy of software. Piracy of software is performed by end-users as well as by the dealers. It causes serious problems that hinder the success of the software industry nationwide and globally. The pirates gain effortless benefits from the sale of pirated software and this ultimately affects the business of the software industry. Piracy of software is the legal consequences of breaking the law. Piracy is performed in different ways, such as hard-disk loading, soft lifting, counterfeit goods, rental software, and bulletin board piracy [14]. The original licensed software offers a number of high valued benefits to the customers and users, like upgrades are available, assurance of quality and reliability, technical support, manuals or documentation, no exposure of your network to security breaches, while the pirated software fails to do so [5]. An organization with the use of pirated software might put them at a huge financial loss, as they are using pirated software that does not provide the mentioned benefits.

Researchers have been attempting to develop techniques to easily detect, prevent, and identify piracy performed in the software [610]. Still, there is a shortage of knowledge about the intricate details of piracy and methodologies, which could aid to notice software piracy in a resourceful way. Along with this, there is a need to create social awareness about the piracy of software and to create a culture of being honest by using only original and legal software. Piracy of software is an observable fact that causes problems for all stakeholders involved, from owners to developers, distributors, vendors, to end-users as well. Organizations and end-users are to be disheartened from consuming pirated software which is not only the theft of rights of the owners and developers of the software, but it might also put them in serious difficulty and high losses. With this kind of social awareness, along with the technical protection against piracy, there will be a gradual decrease in the use of pirated software which will ultimately result in bringing lost profits back to the software industry and the industries will work in a better way.

The cognition process behind software piracy and one of the main reasons for piracy is the psychological factor for not considering it as a crime, which is ultimately a threat to the software industry. So, in order to reduce the piracy of software, it is more important to address that, what are the cognitive reasons or psychological factors behind it. In order to tackle these limitations, the proposed study identifies the main factors of piracy, and then based on these factors, some suggestions are proposed.

The contribution of this paper is to find the existing level of software piracy performed by customers and users, awareness of the piracy, policy of the licensed software, and user perspectives in educational institutions of Pakistan. Furthermore, the main contribution of this paper is given below:(i)To identify the level of existing software piracy in educational institutions done by users(ii)To quantify the existing awareness regarding the use of illegal software(iii)To find the level of awareness of the policy regarding original and licensed software(iv)To identify the reasons behind software piracy in academia(v)To propose suggestions/solution for how to reduce software piracy based on the above discussion

Based on the experimental results, some suggestions are proposed by which the level of piracy can be reduced. These suggestions include “suitable methods of payment for software purchasing,” “availability of Internet in academic institutions,” “conducting seminars on software piracy in academia,” “awareness of piracy,” “HEC visits for ensuring the implementation of their policies in the academia,” “decreasing software costs and licenses prices,” and “implementation of software policy in academia.”

The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 represents related work to software piracy issues and their possible solutions. Section 3 shows the details of the proposed methodology carried out. Section 4 gives results and discussions of the proposed methodology. Section 5 mentions the conclusions of this research.

The software industry and community of researchers have been attempting to develop techniques that can easily detect, prevent, and identify piracy in software. Several diverse techniques are available for the same, but still, there is a lack of knowledge about piracy and the methodologies used for piracy to detect software piracy in an efficient way. Apart from this, there is a need to create awareness for avoiding software piracy and to develop a tradition of being honest by using only original, legal, and licensed software.

The existing methodologies provide enough details for piracy detection and avoidance. Peukert et al. [11] have evaluated the heterogeneous effects of online copyright enforcement. Robertson et al. [12] analyzed the patterns of software piracy for the 20 nations of Latin America. Gan and Koh [2] used a survey technique at the three universities of Singapore for examining the perception of software piracy and to discover the mentioned factors. Mumtaz et al. [13] developed a methodology for piracy protection of secure electronic software distribution.

Mo et al. [14] investigated the opportunity and the setting for their revenue sharing by online content piracy monitoring for Internet service providers and content providers. They further investigated the ISP’s piracy monitoring cost level, the value of contents, and control provider access fee. Lowry et al. [15] conducted a meta-analysis of the literature and analyzed 257 studies with 126,622 participants for investigating the main constructs and covariates. Their meta-analysis results suggest four key sets of factors maximize predictions which are outcome expectations, social learning, self-efficacy, and moral disengagement. Kumar et al. [16] presented a secure split test with functional test capability to mitigate the counterfeits coming from untrusted foundries.

Huang et al. [17] presented a study that considers a single supplier who may sell pirated goods through two independent and different retails channels (traditional and digital). A Stackelberg game is utilized to determine the optimal gain sharing ratio and the equilibrium price for all channel members. Their study found that an increase in piracy would force retailers to compete in a smaller market and lead to a decrease in profits for members of the channel. Chang et al. [18] presented a study that examines the factor effects of software piracy at the country level. From their study, it was found that economic development, trade, education, freedom, regulatory protection, and computer penetration all drastically affect the level of software piracy within the country.

Rasch and Wenzel [19] worked on a two-sided market setting of the impact of software piracy, which includes software platforms that attract developers and users to maximize their profits. Banerjee [20] analyzed the impact of instantaneous increase in piracy and network externalities on research and development investment. Siponen et al. [21] developed a model that explains the effects of neutralization techniques on the intention of software piracy. The results showed that appeal to higher loyalties and condemn the condemners highly predict the intention of software piracy. Andrés and Goel [22] examine the effect of software piracy on medium term growth using cross-country data from 2000 to 2007. Their findings suggest that piracy of software reduces economic growth over the medium term. Kariithi [23] describes the related work to music, film, and piracy of software around the globe, with the attention to data sources, research scope, and generic findings. The author finds that the absence of methodologies utilizing critical theory in this broad literature has constricted the world view of piracy.

Martı´nez-Sanchez [24] analyzed the government and incumbent role in preventing the pirate entry. The framework used a sequential duopoly model of vertical product differentiation with price competition. The results show that both the government and the incumbent have a major role in preventing pirate entry. Al-Rafee and Rouibah [25] reports experiments to prevent digital piracy in Arab and Middle Eastern countries. The experimental results showed that only the religion and awareness treatments contributed to turning down piracy. Nill and Shultz [26] provided an overview of international legal, systematic, and economic considerations and shared an analysis of the drivers of software piracy consumers. The authors discussed strategic considerations and a decision-making typology is introduced which helps legitimate companies to plan strategies in the face of widespread piracy. Peitz and Waelbroeck [27] provided a critical review of the theoretical literature which addresses the economic consequences of end-user copying.

Hamade [28] described the legal and political aspects of software piracy in general and specifically in the Arab world. Banerjee [29] used a framework to address the issue of public policy regarding anticommercial piracy. Bae and Choi [30] developed a model of software piracy to analyze the short-run effects of piracy on the usage of software and the long-run effects of development incentives. Fung and Lakhani [31] analyzed the potential end-user copyright violations linked with peer to peer file sharing and antipiracy efforts. Png [32] concluded that the consultant and methodology change in Business Software Alliance in 2002-2003 had systematic effects on published piracy rates. The decrease trend rate of piracy falls from 2.0% to 1.1% points per year. The proposed research is an endeavor toward identifying the level of existing software piracy in educational institutions done by users, finding the level of how much information is there about awareness of software piracy, finding the level of awareness of the policy regarding original and licensed software, identifying the reasons behind software piracy in academia, and proposing suggestions/solution for how to reduce software piracy based on the above discussions.

3. Proposed Approach

The following sections discuss the proposed approach and experimental study.

3.1. Software Piracy

The piracy of software causes serious problems that hinder the success of the software industry in the national and international markets. The comparison of original licensed software with pirated software shows what benefits the user gets. The original software offers a number of high valued benefits to the customers, including assurance of software quality, availability of upgrades, technical and manual documentation, and less bandwidth consumption. On the other hand, pirated software fails to do so. There might be a risk of failure of the system if an organization was using pirated software, and pirated software might put the organization at the risk of huge financial loss. Some software is available in the form of open-source. But this open-source software is mostly licensed and needs a proper license agreement. Pirates are doing piracy of such software, which ultimately gives loss to the owners [9].

3.2. Protocol of the Study and Experimental Setup

The proposed study was conducted to identify the impact of software piracy in educational institutions. The first step of the study is to find the current level of piracy, its awareness, and the reasons behind why people are doing piracy. This paper addresses the following research questions which are based on a study of the literature and market:(a)Is the software piracy rate high in academia?(b)Are people aware of the software piracy issue?(c)Why do people commit piracy and what are the main reasons behind this issue?(d)What could be the possible solutions to reduce software piracy in academic institutions?

The study has the following research hypotheses:(i)Null hypothesis = Ho: piracy rate is not high in educational institutions(ii)Alternative hypothesis = H1: piracy rate is high in educational institutions(iii)Null hypothesis = Ho: people do have much awareness of software piracy(iv)Alternative hypothesis = H2: people do not have much awareness of software piracy(v)Null hypothesis = Ho: academic institutions are fully utilizing the Higher Education Commission (HEC) software facilities for its employees(vi)Alternative hypothesis = H3: academic institutions are not fully utilizing HEC software facilities for their employees

Rejection of the null hypotheses will lead to the acceptance of our alternative hypotheses which will validate the need and relevance of the conducted study. Figure 1 shows the protocol followed in the proposed study.

In this context, a survey has been conducted through a questionnaire consisting of total of 38 questions related to software piracy. Questions are divided into five sections, which are shown in Table 1.


S. no.SectionNo. of questionsPurpose

1Demographic information3Information about age, gender, and profession
2Existing level of software piracy6To identify what is the existing level of software piracy
3Awareness of software piracy12To know how much people are aware of software piracy, its merits, and demerits, etc.
4HEC software policy awareness and its availability4To identify the awareness of people about HEC policies for software facilities to academic institutions
5Reasons behind software piracy13To know why people do software piracy

For conducting a survey of proposed research work, a questionnaire was designed and sent to the faculty members, students, and administrative staff of different universities of the country. A total of 110 responses were received. These responses were analyzed using SPSS software.

4. Results and Discussion

The questionnaire was sent to more than 500 hundred people including faculty members, students, and administrative staff of different universities. They were contacted through their official e-mail. A total of 110 responses were received from 37 universities in Pakistan. The data has been analyzed by means of the SPSS tool to determine whether the results had statistically significant differences. For the tests, we used a confidence interval of 90% and a significance level of 0.05. Null hypotheses Ho became rejected when the values were less than 0.05. Summary of the test for the existing level of piracy, piracy awareness, utilization of HEC software facilities, and reasons are provided in the following sections.

It is important to note that SPSS test summary tables are aimed to show whether the difference in the responses is significant or not. Null hypothesis terminology in Tables 25 refers to the different null hypotheses of the study represented as Ho. Based on the responses received, the following subsections show the results achieved from the study conducted.


S. no.Null hypothesisTestSig.Decision

1The categories defined by soft_use = Pirated and licensed occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
2The categories of friend_use occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
3The categories of soft_active occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
4The categories defined by online_pay = No and yes occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
5The categories of Pirated_soft_use occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
6The categories of people_piracy occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis


S. no.Null hypothesisTestSig.Decision

1The categories defined by soft_use = Pirated and licensed occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
2The categories of friend_use occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
3The categories of soft activate occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
4The categories defined by online _pay = No and yes occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
5The categories of pirated_soft_use occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
6The categories of function_diff occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
7The categories defined by attend seminar = No and yes occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
8The categories of caught_piracy occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
9The categories of feel_shame occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Retain the null hypothesis
10The categories defined by sharing_piracy = Agree and disagree occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
11The categories defined by side effect = No and yes occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis


S. no.Null hypothesisTestSig.Decision

1The categories defined by know_HEC_facility = No and yes occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.391Retain the null hypothesis
2The categories defined by institute_soft_facility = No and yes occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
3The categories defined by institute_provide_facility = No and yes occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
4The categories defined by want _seminar = No and yes occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis


S. no.Null hypothesisTestSig.Decision

1The categories of piracy_because occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
2The categories of reduce_ratio_ piracy_ occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
3The categories defined by piracy_huge_money = Agree and disagree occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
4The categories of expensive_cheap occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
5The categories of econo_incentives occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
6The categories defined by online_buy_facility = No and yes occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
7The categories defined by favor_voilation = Yes and No occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
8The categories of warning occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
9The categories of notification_feel occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
10The categories defined by find_active_code = Yes and No occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.391Retain the null hypothesis
11The categories of easy_soft_reg occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
12The categories of piracy_caught_prob occur with equal probabilitiesOne-sample chi-square test0.000Reject the null hypothesis
13The categories defined by implement_soft_policy = Disagree and agree occur with probabilities 0.5 and 0.5One-sample binomial test0.000Reject the null hypothesis

4.1. Existing Level of Piracy

Most of the people in universities are using pirated software. Statistics of the present study shows that 67.3% of people do use pirated software. The activation of the software is done by using fake (illegal) cracks and other activation methods. The fake key is used as an alternate for showing the software is original, while in the actual original software, it is allowed only to those users who purchased the license of the software. Using fake keys is the piracy of software is a serious crime. According to the statistics of the study, the activation by online payment is too low, which is 7.3%. Buying CD/DVD from the market is still less (38.2%) compared to activation by cracking the software (54.5%). The online payment facility in educational institutions shows that 81.8% of the participants do not have to buy the software online and pay for it, while only 18.2% have the facility to buy the software online. The rates of the total number of pirated software were identified to be much higher from the survey. According to the survey, 49.1% of each participant uses more than six pirated software. Other participants are not exempted from piracy but differ only in less number of pirated software, and their ratio is 18.2% for (4–6) number of pirated software and 32.7% for (1–3) number of pirated software. The study shows that the existing piracy is too high and the majority of people use pirated software. About 80% of participants think that people do piracy. Figure 2 shows the details of a different aspect of the existing level of piracy.

The summary statistics for the existing level of piracy can be seen in Table 2. The null hypothesis has been rejected for each variable aimed at identifying the existing level of piracy which shows that the difference among the responses is significant. By summarizing the results, we can say that the Null hypothesis “piracy rate is not high in educational institutions” is rejected.

Figure 3 shows the representation of different groups of variables in the area from the current research perspectives. These variables include the use of pirated software, activation by online payment, buying CD/DVD, cracking the software, online facility to buy the software, piracy of more than 6 software products, piracy of 4–6 pieces of software, piracy of 1–3 software, participants doing piracy, importance of piracy, aware of the demerits of piracy, knowledge about the penalties of piracy, different functionalities, participant preferring to use the software, participants not attending any seminar on piracy, caught/warned, participants not caring about warning, sharing software not considered a good act, and participants being aware of the side effects. These variables were taken as important considerations of the proposed research. The relevant values of these variables are given in Figure 3.

4.2. Awareness about Software Piracy

The awareness of software piracy is analyzed through the questionnaire. Piracy of software is an important issue for participants to be stopped. The survey statistics show that only 1% does not give importance to piracy. The disadvantages and ethics of piracy show that most of the participants, 70.9%, are aware of the demerits of piracy, while the rest of the participants are not aware of the disadvantages of piracy. They agree that piracy is ethically wrong to do. The people know about the disadvantages of piracy but not their penalties for doing piracy. Only 34.5% have knowledge about the penalties of piracy, while the rest are unaware of it. The pirated software is functionally different from the licensed software. Among all participants, 58.2% agree that their functionalities are different, while 29.1% do not notice that they are different at all. The selection criteria for software products shows that 70.9% of the participants prefer to use the software that provides rich number of features and additional features come with more expensive license cost. The responses regarding the conduction of awareness seminars show that 85.5% of participants did not attend any seminar on piracy and its related issues. The users have been caught/warned while using pirated software. The statistics of this study for caught/warned participants show that most of them have been caught at least 1–3 times (74.5%) and 16.4% of participants have a much higher rate of warning (more than 6 times). People do not feel embarrassed while using pirated software. But the difference between the frequency of the response is not significant enough. People share their pirated software with other friends and colleagues, but still, they agree that this is not a good act, 78.2%. Participants are not aware of all side effects of software piracy and only a few of the participants have awareness, 27.3%, while 72.7% of participants are not aware at all. Figure 4 shows the awareness of software piracy.

The statistics of awareness about piracy are shown in Table 3. The null hypothesis is rejected for all the variables except feeling shame while using pirated software. From the results, it can be concluded that the null hypothesis “people do have awareness about software piracy” is not being fully retained; the results show that people have awareness about software piracy on the basic level. The awareness is lacking penalties that can be given to those who commit piracy of software. They do not know all the side effects of software piracy. They have not attended any seminars on software piracy and the most important thing they are involved in piracy because of only having basic knowledge.

4.3. HEC Software Policy Facility Utilization

The HEC provides the facility of the licensed software to use and have different plans for academic institutions. A total of 45.5% of the survey respondents know about this facility of HEC and 54.5% are not aware of it. The difference between their responses is not significant enough. So, it cannot be concluded that participants know about the HEC software facility. The institution’s role in software availability was studied. It has been noticed that people use their own software and the academic institutions do not provide them any free software facility. A total of 67.3% of respondents is not being facilitated by any kind of free software from their institution. Most of the academic institutions do not facilitate their faculty members, students, and other staff by purchasing licensed software. Only 29.1% of participants have been availing of licensed software from their institution. Participants do not have enough knowledge about software facilities that they can avail of and can be provided by their institutions. In this regard, almost all participants (96.4%) want to have a seminar on software piracy. Figure 5 shows the details of the HEC software facility policy utilization.

The statistics for utilization of HEC software facilities are shown in Table 4. HEC has software policies to provide software to academic institutions. From the statistics given in Table 4, the ratio of awareness about HEC software facilities is not significant enough. Other measures for utilization of HEC software facilities by academic institutions are still the main point of concern. In Table 4, it can be seen that the null hypothesis is rejected for the similarity of the responses for variables. It shows that participants are not being facilitated by academic institutions and seminars are required to be conducted both for academic institutions, along with participants. So, the main null hypothesis “academic institutions are fully utilizing HEC software facilities to its employees” is being rejected, which means academic institutions are not fully utilizing HEC software facilities to its employees.

4.4. Software Piracy and Their Cause from User Perspective

High software cost is one of the reasons behind software piracy. From the survey statistics, about 70% of participants consider it because of the price, while another reason is lack of awareness that has statistics of 23.6%. Software piracy ratio can be reduced by lower software cost, as in survey its statistics are high (54.5%) as compared to other alternative increasing awareness (30.9%) and easy payment methods (14.5%). Piracy of software saves money and prices of paid software as most of the participants (72.7%) say that piracy saves a significant amount of money for them because software prices are high. From statistics, the software is expensive for 85.5% of the survey members, while others consider it normal (10.9%) or cheap (4.6%). The economic factor of software was studied and the study shows that economy is an incentive for purchasing pirated software. 52.7% of participants agreed, while others did not know (30.9%) or disagreed (16.4%).

Unfamiliarity and unavailability of online purchasing is a factor of the survey in which most of the people (67.8%) are not able to buy software directly from the Internet because they do not have an online buying facility. The participants were not in favor of software piracy. Only 32.7% of the participants are on the other side. The participants receive fake software registration notifications not too often (50.9%), while only 25.5% of participants receive notifications very often and 23.6% do not receive them at all. Receiving warnings and notifications also has a psychological bad effect on the participants. They do not like at all the warning they receive for doing piracy. A total of 61.8% of participants feel bad after this, while 29.1% do not care. Still, some of them feel happy to receive it.

Finding fake/pirated software activation codes and licenses on the Internet is easy and statistics do not differ significantly (54.5%). In contrast, 45.5% of participants find it easy to find activation codes on the Internet. The difference is not significant enough and we cannot say that activation codes can easily be found on the Internet based on the higher percentage of responses (54.5%). Also, registration of software from the Internet is the easiest way (70.9%) for people are compared to other alternatives. The low probability of getting caught during piracy is medium for 49.1% of participants, while 41.8% of the participants’ probability of being caught is low. Poor implementation of software policy has been studied and the execution of software policy needs to be implemented in the academic institutions. 90.9% of the respondent agreed to have a software policy to be implemented in academic institutions. Figure 6 shows software piracy and its causes from user perspectives.

A detailed discussion about the reasons behind software piracy is being discussed. Summary statistics are given in Table 5. We can see that difference among responses is significant for all variables (null hypothesis rejected) except the availability of software activation codes on the Internet. The reasons that retained after statistical analysis are high software cost, piracy being a way to save a significant amount of money, unavailability of online payment facilities, and poor implementation of HEC software policies in academia.

4.5. Issues Identified in the Study

Software piracy is a big issue to be considered. From the study conducted, it is obviously shown that piracy rates in academic institutions are high enough. This survey mainly includes faculty members and students from academic institutions. Although people were aware of the knowledge that piracy has several disadvantages, they do consider it an important issue and discourage piracy and also feel functionality differences between pirated and licensed software. However, there are still some issues in the awareness of software piracy. The main issues that have been identified in the survey regarding the high rate of software piracy and people awareness about software piracy are listed below:(i)High rate of software piracyThe main issue found in the current study is the high rate of software piracy. The study aimed to focus on academic institutions where the participants are faculty members, students, and administrative staff. Still, it is observed that software piracy is high in educational institutions which are very important issues to be considered. It has been noticed that the majority of the people use pirated software and each of the faculty members uses pirated software in several different forms.(ii)Unavailability of the online payment facilityAnother issue is the availability of an online payment facility which is necessary to be available to at least faculty members of the institution. As a matter of fact, the latest and updated software are available on the Internet and mostly need online buying procedure of purchasing. If one does not have an online payment facility, then the only choice seems to be piracy if available on the Internet because purchasing from the market is not a feasible choice. Cracks and activation codes are available on the Internet and with some searching and time spent, these can be downloaded, which is also a serious issue behind increasing software piracy.(iii)Lack of awareness about software piracyPeople are unaware of the penalties for software piracy. They only know piracy has disadvantages and licensed software provides rich functionality which is not enough. There is also a lack of knowledge about the advantages of licensed software. Similarly, almost all participants did not attend any workshop or seminar on the issue of software piracy that may lead to higher software piracy.(iv)Poor utilization of HEC available software facilitiesPeople know that HEC has a policy for software in academic institutions, but they do not have enough knowledge to avail their offers and benefit from it. Academic institutions do not get benefits from HEC services and we have seen in the study that these services are not facilitated for participants.

4.6. Main Reason for Issues behind Software Piracy and Awareness

We have identified some of the reasons behind software piracy. These are discussed in detail in the following subsections.(i)Unsuitable payment methods for software purchasingOne of the reasons behind software piracy is the unavailability of online payment methods for people. Credit card or other ways are not widely being used by student(s) and all the faculty members for online transactions which forces them to use another way of registering or getting registered software.(ii)Basic knowledge about software piracyThe people have only basic knowledge about software piracy which is not enough. The people do not know the penalties for software piracy and therefore, it seems like a normal act, although it is a crime too.(iii)Conduction of seminar/workshopsOne of the reasons for the lack of awareness includes less or lack of awareness program about software piracy. Not enough seminars or workshops have been conducted to spread awareness about software piracy. As a result, they do not know the penalties that can be given to the person doing piracy.(iv)Poor implementation of HEC software policies by academic institutionsThe people use pirated software inside academic institutions, although the HEC provides facilities of free access for some important software products.(v)High software costThe main and key reason is software cost. People have to get paid a significant amount of money while getting pirated software to save much of it. As a result, along with some knowledge and awareness, the people do piracy.

4.7. Proposed Suggestions to Stop/Reduce Software Piracy

Based on the experimental study of the proposed research and results obtained, we have proposed some of the solutions/suggestions that can help in reducing software piracy. Details of each one are discussed below.(i)Introducing suitable methods of payment for software purchasingAs most of the people do not have payment facility or do not use online payment/transaction as a primary method for purchasing. So, new methods of payment need to be adopted to reduce software piracy. It is necessary to use other methods that are available in the current market like Easypaisa, Mobi cash, and so on in the context of Pakistan as an example.(ii)Availability of high-speed Internet in academic institutionsInternet speed is also a limiting factor. Low speed of Internet also creates problems for downloading big size of software which compels people to take from other sources instead of wasting much of their time on downloading.(iii)Conducting and arranging seminars on software piracy in academiaDifferent academic programs like seminars, workshops, and training for promoted awareness about software piracy need to be initiated. In this regard, workshops or seminars to be conducted in educational institutions like universities on the highest priority. These programs should be aimed to be more focused on highlighting the bright aspects of the licensed software product.(iv)Awareness of need-based productsOn one side, people do piracy because they think the price of licensed software is much high. On the other hand, they prefer software for a high number of features. As a matter of fact, it is not necessary that software with rich features will be the best for each and every user. Each and every user has different requirements and popular software products available on the Internet have different user plans too. So, if the user is aware of his/her work needs, then he/she will pay only for these features and not for all possible features. For example, windows have different categories like home-edition, proedition, and ultimate-edition. Prices do vary for these products based on user-specific need. Another example is Microsoft Office, which has different prices product for different user’s need like students and professionals.It is important to highlight suitable product features for specific needs. If it is done, users will download and pay for customized products with lower prices and according to their needs.(v)HEC visits for ensuring the implementation of their policies in the academiaThe HEC need visits to academic institutions to ensure how much awareness about piracy of software people have. Based on the visits to the university, the needs of software can be identified and HEC can add more software products in their plan for the future or can exclude obsolete software products that could have less importance.(vi)Decreasing software costs and licenses pricesAs one of the suggestions to attract people to licensed software mentioned above is to pay for need-based customized software product. Another good step could be to decrease software licensing prices for the user. Because despite of the awareness, people still do piracy. They claim software prices are too high.(vii)Implementation of software policy in academiaIt is important for academic institutions to get benefit from the HEC software facility. From the survey, participants are not facilitated by institutions for software products and they buy or do piracy of it by themselves.

5. Conclusions

Software piracy is an ever-increasing problem of the modern-day software industry. Owing to the evolution in software development and the Internet, software piracy has become a main concern for many software companies. Software companies are confronted with extremely high losses due to the piracy of software. Pirates gain a lot of money by doing business with pirated software, and they do not think what they are doing is a crime. General end-users and the community of the software are not well aware of this serious crime. Even most of the time, end-users and consumers think that it is none of their concern and not an important issue for them to worry about. If an organization is using pirated software, there is a risk of failure of the software, and it might put the organization into a big loss of risk. Open-source software is available, but some of this software needs a proper license from the concerned owner agencies and the user needs to pay for it. Most people cannot afford these license charges which become a burden on them. So they do piracy of the software. On the other hand, people use crack software (registered by the user through unfair way) for their needs as they do not have enough money to pay for licensing the software, although they are aware of the real problems that pirated software have which include upgrades are not available, no assurance of quality and reliability, no technical support, no manuals or documentation, exposure of network to security breaches, and many others.

The pirated software does not receive any technical support from the organization which is developed. Due to these reasons, software piracy has turned out to be a major concern-more emergent due to the extravagant development of the software industry and the availability of software(s) on the Internet. This paper elaborates on the awareness of piracy, policy of the licensed software, and user perspective regarding the original licensed and pirated software. A questionnaire of about 38 questions was given to the students, faculty members, and administrative staff of different intuitions, and after the collection of data, analysis was performed. These questions were designed and finalized as per the discussions of the members of the project approved by the higher education commission. The results of the analysis are shown in Figures 26 and Table 6.


Question no.Question descriptionOption (A)Option (B)Option (C)

Demographic information
1Age10–2525–35>35
2GenderMaleFemale
3ProfessionStudentFacultyOther

Existing software piracy
4Which type of software do you use?PiratedLicensed
5How many of your friends use licensed software?All of themFew of themNone
6How you activate the software?Online paymentBuying CD/DVDCracking it
7Have you any facility for online payment for software?YesNo
8What are your selection criteria for choosing software?Lower costRich number of features
9How much pirated software do you use?1–34–6>6

Awareness of software piracy
10How much software piracy is an important issue?UnimportantSomehowVery important
11Do you think using pirated software has any disadvantages?YesNo
12Do you know about penalties for software piracy?YesNo
13Is piracy against ethics?YesNoDo not know
14Do you feel any functionality difference between pirated software and the original one?No differenceMuch differenceDo not know
15Have you ever attended any seminar/workshop on software piracy?YesNo
16While using pirated software, the probability you will be caught isLowMediumHigh
17Majority of people use pirated software?AgreeDisagree
18Do you feel ashamed/guilty while using pirated software?YesNoSomehow
19Sharing pirated software with others is a good act?YesNo
20Intellectual property law is beneficial for the customerAgreeDisagree
21Do you know all the side effects of software piracy?YesNoSomehow

HEC software policy
22Do you know about HEC software providing facilities?YesNo
23Is your academic institution providing any free software?YesNo
24Is any licensed software purchased by your institution for you?YesNo
25Are you in favor of organizing seminars/workshops on software piracy?YesNo

Piracy (user perspective)
26People use pirated software because of?Lack of awarenessHigh software costOther (please mention)
27The ratio of software piracy can be reduced byIncreasing awarenessDecreasing software license pricesEasy payment
28Software piracy saves a significant amount of our money?AgreeDisagree
29Prices of the paid software areExpensiveNormalCheap
30The economic factor is an incentive for me to purchase pirated softwareAgreeDisagree
31Do you have any facility for buying online software and products?YesNo
32Are you in favor of giving a violation of software piracy?YesNo
33How often you receive warnings about fake software registrations?Very oftenFew timeNever received
34What is your feeling when you got a notification about pirated softwareNormal
35Is it easy for you to find activation codes/cracks for software on the Internet?YesNo
36What is the easiest way to register your software?From the InternetFrom friendsAny other source
37While using pirated software, the probability you will be caught isLowMediumHigh
38Employees & students need the implementation of S/W policy in an academic institutionAgreeDisagree

The current study identified some of the reasons for software piracy. These reasons are “unsuitable payment methods for software purchasing,” “basic knowledge about software piracy,” “conduction of seminar/workshops,” “poor implementation of HEC software policies by academic institutions,” “high software cost.”

Based on the above reasons, some suggestions are proposed by which the level of piracy can be reduced. These suggestions include “introducing suitable methods of payment for software purchasing,” “availability of high-speed Internet in academic institutions,” “conducting and arranging seminars on software piracy in academia,” “awareness of need-based products,” “HEC visits for ensuring the implementation of their policies in the academia,” “decreasing software costs and licenses prices,” and “implementation of software policy in academia.” By adopting the proposed suggestions, the level of piracy can be reduced.

Data Availability

No data were used to support this study.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright © 2020 Zitian Liao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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